PhD scholarship in Fungal Evolution and Genomics

Copenhagen University
March 20, 2023
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
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Working Time:Negotigation
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PhD scholarship in Fungal Evolution and Genomics, University of Copenhagen

The Integrative Evolutionary Biology (IEB) group in the Department of Biology at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark is offering a PhD scholarship in fungal evolution and genomics starting 1 September 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter. The University of Copenhagen provides a top-notch research environment and the city of Copenhagen provides a vibrant cultural scene.

Scientific environment

​Symbioses often involve food exchange among interacting partners, but the nutritional dimensions underlying these transactions are often difficult to parse. The IEB group has developed techniques for using symbioses involving social insects as models for such inquiry. A main focus of our research is the remarkable lineage of fungus-farming ‘attine' ants that have evolved diverse farming strategies for cultivating fungal symbionts which in turn have evolved key signatures of crop domestication (e.g. specialized nutritional rewards that occur nowhere else in the fungal kingdom). Our research is driven by hypotheses that we test using diverse methodological approaches including field studies in Panamanian rainforests, laboratory studies of behavior and physiology, in vitro tests of fungal cultivar performance, as well as molecular and bioinformatics approaches. More information can be found on the webpage www.

Project Description

The PhD scholarship will be part of a newly established research project “Missing-link cultivars: using fungus-farming ants to solve mysteries of crop domestication” funded by the Carlsberg Foundation. More information about the project can be found here: https: // www. Shik.

The project will explore genomic signatures of crop domestication, focusing on a lineage of fungi that has been cultivated for food by attine ants for millions of years. These fungi have traits that reinforce their value as co- evolved food crops, and they depend on their ant farmers to provide them with nutritional substrates (e.g. fresh vegetation) foraged from the environment. The PhD candidate is expected to participate in the design of experiments and analyses to explore the cellular processes and metabolic pathways governing fungus crop performance. Important research approaches will include genomic, comparative genomic, bioinformatic, and experimental mycological techniques.

Daily work will be based in the thriving research environment of the Section of Ecology and Evolution (https: // evolution/). The project will involve a longer research stay abroad at a host institution to be determined.

Principal supervisor is Associate Professor Jonathan Z. Shik, Section for Ecology and Evolution, Department of Biology, [email protected] , Direct Phone: +45 31152140.

Job description

The position is available for a 3-year period and your key tasks as a PhD student at SCIENCE are:

  • To manage and carry through your research project

  • Attend PhD courses

  • Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis
  • Teach and disseminate your research
  • To stay at an external research institution for a few months, preferably abroad
  • Work for the department
  • Qualifications

    The successful applicant will have experience and interest in evolution, genomics, bioinformatics, and fungus culturing methods, as well as:

  • MSc in Biology with good results (including publications and conference presentations)
  • An interest in fungal evolution, genomics and bioinformatics
  • Experience with standard molecular biological techniques (eg. DNA/RNA extraction, PCR/qPCR, sequencing, etc.)

  • Experience working in a microbiological laboratory, preferably with fungi

  • Creativity and ability to be both team-oriented and independent

  • A proven record of excellent English speaking, reading, and writing skills.
  • Embrace of an international research environment and interdisciplinary research
  • Relevant scientific publications in reputable journals is advantageous, but not required
  • Formal requirements Applicants should hold an MSc degree in biology, biotechnology, microbiology, microbial ecology or a similar degree from other relevant research fields with good results and good English skills. The candidate should be qualified to enroll as a PhD student at the Science PhD school. As criteria for the assessment of your qualifications, emphasis will also be put on previous publications (if any) and relevant work experience.

    Terms of employment

    The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff. Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.

    Application Procedure

    The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

    How to apply

    Applications must include:

  • Cover letter
  • Curriculum vitae (including a list of publications)
  • Copies of relevant diplomas and transcripts (Master and Bachelor)
  • Acceptance Letter for the relevant MSc Programme at SCIENCE, if any
  • Statement of research interests and reasons for applying to this position (max 2 pages)
  • Full contact details (name, address, e-mail, telephone numbers).
  • In addition to the fulfilment of the above-mentioned qualifications, the main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant, the match with the project and good interpersonal skills. Additionally, my research group and the University of Copenhagen strive to reflect the diversity of society and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

    The deadline for applications is 20 March 2023, 23:59 GMT +1.

    After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager will select applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee. Afterwards, an assessment committee will be appointed to evaluate the selected applications. The applicants will be notified of the composition of the committee and the final selection of a successful candidate will be made by the Head of Department, based on the recommendations of the assessment committee and the interview committee.

    The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant and the previously mentioned skills. The successful candidate will then be requested to formally apply for enrollment as a PhD student at the PhD school of Science. You can read more about the recruitment process at https: // General information about PhD programmes at SCIENCE is available at https: // www.


    For specific information about the Postdoctoral Fellowship please contact Associate Professor at [email protected], Direct Phone: +45 31152140.

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